The state of Maine offers numerous licensing opportunities for counselors, including marriage and family therapists and professional, clinical, pastoral, and registered counselors. Now is a great time to pursue your licensure in the state as the fields of mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy are projected to grow faster than many other occupations. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 23% increase in demand for these professionals between 2016-2026.
This guide below outlines important information about counseling careers in the state, including job descriptions, counseling licensure requirements, and continuing education opportunities.
Counseling Careers in Maine
As you explore the requirements to qualify as a mental health counselor in Maine, note the diversity of available career tracks. The type of counselor you become can ultimately affect where you work, your job duties, your salary, and the type of clients you treat. The section below offers more information about different types of counselors, including job descriptions and relevant links to learn more.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
Educational counselors help their clients develop the social, academic, and professional skills to succeed in school and in their careers. They often work for educational and nonprofit institutions where they create and implement plans catered to their clients' unique strengths and needs.Explore Career Information Explore Maine School Counselor Certification
Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists help individuals, couples, and families cope with problems. They provide counseling and referral services in a one-on-one or small-group setting. Many of these therapists work in private practice.Explore Career Information
Rehabilitation counselors help those with physical, mental, emotional, or developmental disabilities live as independently as possible. They often work at community rehabilitation centers or for social service agencies.Explore Career Information Explore Maine Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
These counselors offer support to individuals struggling with various issues, including alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, and underlying depression, anxiety, or grief. They often specialize in a particular area to better serve their clients.Explore Career Information Explore Maine Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
Mental health counselors provide support and treatment to people dealing with anxiety, depression, stress, or suicidal thoughts. They may work with people of all ages, but often they specialize with specific populations, such as the elderly, college students, or children. These professionals may also conduct outreach programs and refer clients to other support services.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in Maine?
Salaries of counselors in Maine vary depending upon specialization and location. For instance, mental health professionals working in a larger city like Augusta can expect to earn more than their rural counterparts thanks to a higher cost of living. The table below outlines what counselors can earn in the state, measured against the rest of the United States. Note that the BLS combines wage data for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors.
Education Requirements for Counselors in Maine
Education and Coursework
The first step toward becoming a licensed counselor in Maine is to earn a master's or doctoral degree from an accredited institution or a program approved by the state board. Qualifying programs include counseling degrees accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), rehabilitation counseling degrees accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education, or psychology degrees accredited by the American Psychological Association or Canadian Psychological Association.
The first step toward becoming a licensed counselor in Maine is to earn a master's or doctoral degree
Candidates for counseling licensure must also complete at least 48 credits in each of the following 10 core areas: human growth and development, social and cultural foundations, helping relationships, groups, lifestyle and career development, measurement, research and evaluation, professional orientation, practicum, and internship.
Applicants without a qualifying degree may still meet the state's educational requirements with a master's degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution and at least 36-48 credits. A candidate may also apply for licensure after completing at least 48 credits of graduate-level coursework in a counseling program at a regionally accredited institution. This coursework must also include the 10 core areas.
Practicum and Internship
The state requires applicants to complete a practicum course and internship, which requires 600 hours of supervised counseling experience. Maine also offers an alternative to the internship and practicum requirement: Applicants may instead submit documented evidence showing 700 hours of supervised counseling experience, including at least 280 hours of direct client contact.
Online Counseling Programs in Maine
Online counseling programs allow students to pursue their educations on their own schedules and from the comfort of their own homes. These programs can provide you with the opportunity to earn a degree while balancing other personal and professional obligations. In addition, online programs may cost less than residential programs, because you typically do not need to pay for room and board or for fees associated with campus services.
Online counseling programs provide you with the opportunity to earn a degree while balancing personal and professional obligations
In Maine, you can find online programs in counseling at a handful of institutions. For example, the University of Southern Maine offers a 90% online master of science in rehabilitation counseling; the school also features an online bachelor's in social and behavioral sciences that can prepare you for entry-level roles or continuing on to a master’s program. The University of New England features a completely online, asynchronous master of social work and Saint Joseph's College — a private Catholic institution — offers an online bachelor's in social work.
Many colleges and universities in the greater New England region also offer online programs in counseling, social work, and psychology. Make sure to fully research all of your options before deciding on a program so that you understand the unique benefits and challenges that come with online education.
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Maine
As a part of Maine's Professional and Financial Regulation Department, the Board of Counseling Professionals Licensure issues and regulates licenses for mental health counselors in the state. In addition to education and internship requirements, applicants age 18 and older must successfully pass the national counselor examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
Applicants must also complete 2,000 hours of supervised counseling experience no less than two years after graduating with a qualifying degree. The supervised counseling experience must include at least 1,000 hours of direct counseling with individuals, couples, families, or groups and a minimum of 67 hours of supervision.
Out-of-State Counselor Candidates
While the state board does not offer reciprocal agreements with other states, counselors currently licensed in other states can still apply for counseling licensure in Maine. The board offers two pathways for out-of-state licensed counselors. Applicants with a license equivalent to a Maine license — and in good standing — may submit evidence of actively practicing mental health counseling for five years or more.
Similarly, candidates with a current good-standing license can demonstrate qualifications similar to Maine's licensing requirements. For both options, aspiring LPCs must submit a form specifically for applicants licensed in another jurisdiction.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Maine
As you explore the requirements of earning your counseling licensure in Maine, pay special attention to the renewal dates to avoid late penalties. In Maine, licenses for marriage and family therapists, as well as professional, clinical professional, pastoral, and registered counselors, expire every two years after the issuing date.
To renew a counselor license, applicants must pay a biennial renewal fee and submit an application documenting 55 hours of continuing education credits to the Maine counselor board. The state charges a late fee to licensees who do not renew by the deadline. Candidates who submit a renewal request more than 90 days after the expiration date must apply for a new license.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Maine
- Maine Behavioral Health Workforce Development Collaborative This organization provides behavioral health professionals — such as mental health counselors — with training and certification opportunities. The Collaborative offers free online continuing education courses on various topics, such as substance abuse, brain injury, and dementia. The MBHWDC also features information about different kinds of jobs and career options in the field.
- Professional Development Resources A nonprofit educational corporation based in Jacksonville, Florida and organized in 1992, PDR provides online continuing education courses on topics relevant to mental healthcare professionals. The PDR offers mental health counselors the opportunity to explore courses, register, study, take exams, and earn continuing education credits entirely online.
- Free State Social Work This organization is an online continuing education provider approved by the Association of Social Work Boards and NBCC. The site offers continuing education credits for mental health counselors, social workers, and therapists. To earn continuing credits, mental health counselors pay a fee, read an article, and complete a post-test entirely online.
Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Maine
- Maine Behavioral Health Workforce Development Collaborative MBHWDC offers continuing education trainings in areas like opiate abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. They also provide resources on degree and certificate programs available in Maine.
- Maine Mental Health Counselors Association MEMHCA represents licensed counselors in Maine as the state branch of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. Through MEMHCA, members can access continuing education resources, receive updates on news and developments in the field, and attend an annual networking conference.
- Maine Counseling Association MCA serves as the state branch of the American Counseling Association. They established an ethical code of conduct for professionals working in Maine and host an annual conference and regional events. MCA offers discount membership fees to counseling students.
- Maine School Counselor Association MSCA represents school counselors and promotes professionalism and ethical practice within its field. It hosts a variety of professional development resources on its website and organizes an annual conference for its members.
- Maine Department of Health and Human Services DDHS issues licenses to professional counselors in Maine. The agency also employs many counselors and provides data and best practices to help counselors combat issues like drug addiction.
- American Counseling Association Founded in 1952, ACA is the largest professional association for counselors in the country. It advocates on behalf of its members, offers online professional development and continuing education opportunities, and hosts an annual conference and numerous chapter events. The website also features a job board and resources for new and aspiring counselors.
- American School Counselor Association ASCA supports school counselors as they ensure the academic and social success of students throughout the United States. It conducts and publishes research on issues facing school counselors and offers a wealth of professional development resources, including webinars and in-person workshops. The association also provides detailed information on various professional roles within counseling.
- American Mental Health Counselors Association AMHCA represents clinical mental health counselors or individuals with state authorization to diagnose and treat mental and behavioral issues. The association offers home-study continuing education courses and maintains a career center. It also monitors and advocates on matters of mental health policy and organizes an annual conference.